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Hooked on old ways, George shows his age

The technology slot on The Right Hook should just be called George Hook in the 21st Century. In it, George grapples with modernity and boffin-like guests act as though they've just defrosted him from a passing iceberg.

This week George announced that he'd managed to connect his fancy laptop to his fancy telly with triumphant zeal akin to that monkey who beat another monkey with a hammer in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

He also acts the bewildered time-traveller when dealing with gender issues. Tuesday was International Women's Day, and George tackled the subject by seeming to sprout Victorian mutton chops and sparring with Ivana Bacik and Camille Loftis from the National Women's Council.

There were no gender problems anymore, he argued. Bacik and Loftis attempted to hide their exasperation behind good humour, while George doubted established facts (relative pay gaps; the gender disparity when it came to care-work), claimed that men were demonised, and suggested that women liked the status quo.

His guests debated gamely, but it's difficult to have a reasonable argument with someone who sounds like they could break into 19th century diction at any moment ("'Automobile?' What is this 'automobile'?").

"In these discussions I always show my age," said George, as the item ended and Loftis and Bacik were carted off to be treated for hysteria or some other Victorian malady of the lady-mind. "But you're not really saying that a female bus conductor earns less than a male bus conductor?" They weren't saying this, not least because there haven't been bus conductors since the end of the 20th century. But this is the world George came from: bus conductors, spinning jenny operators, adoring wives and mammoth skin salesmen.

On Liveline another ancient creature raised its helmet-shaped head -- The Bieber. Beloved by teeny-boppers, Bieber has worn many guises over the centuries (Jimmy Osmond, Rick Astley, Cthulu Eater of Worlds). This week the tweens bound for his O2 concert discovered their names had to match the credit card booking information and this caused much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

"This is Ireland and the lads on the door and the lassies on the door will be accommodating," insisted Joe Duffy amid the sighs that have become his shtick. Later a Bieberite called Katie breathlessly revealed her nervousness that she would soon be "breathing the same air as Justin Bieber". (Pop fact: The Bieber comes from a shadow dimension where they breathe nitrogen.)

Wednesday was notable for its shiny new Taoiseach and a heap of Bieberesque Dail deputies. On Today with Pat Kenny, Valerie Cox evoked the first day of school, and incoming TD Simon Harris, who may have been elected as part of a school project, spoke to Pat about how he, the youngest Dail deputy, would be introducing the new Taoiseach (it sounded like he was sitting on Pat's lap).

In contrast, the excellent documentary Dogfight examined two rival Fianna Fail TDs in Dublin South West fighting it out on the road to electoral oblivion. The minutiae were fascinating. Conor Lenihan's canvassers had a distress signal to warn one another about irate householders (frantic ear scratching). Charlie O'Connor's operation featured a bossy ex-daughter-in-law who insisted he keep his canvassers in line ("We look like the Men in Black," she complained of one woman's sunglasses).

But as the duo ribbed one another and mischievously raced each other to public meetings, the anger of people overwhelmed the whimsy.

"If the Viper was here selling drugs I'd be telling him to get off the road," said one irate man to Lenihan, "and I'm telling you to get off the road."

Away from the microphones another man advanced on Lenihan brandishing a screwdriver. All things considered, losing their seats was a minor tragedy. As one canvasser observed: "The populace is taking its revenge, but thanks be to Jesus it's not Libya."

The Right Hook, Newstalk, weekdays; Liveline, Radio 1, weekdays; Today with Pat Kenny Radio 1, weekdays; Dogfight, Radio 1, Saturday